2022 Annual Report for the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia

Note to Reader:

Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the Living Water Smart vision. The edition published on March 14, 2023 featured Partnership’s Annual Report 2022. The document is written to inform and engage the reader through a storytelling approach to sharing of information.

DOWNLOAD A COPY: https://waterbucket.ca/atp/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2023/02/PWSBC_Annual-Report-2022_as-published.pdf


Collaborative leadership deliver results across organizational boundaries: Build bridges of understanding, pass the baton!

Over the past 30 years, a series of provincial government initiatives established a direction for water sustainability, including Stewardship of the Water of BC in 1993, the Fish Protection Act in 1997, and the Water Conservation Strategy for BC in 1998. The high-water mark is Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan, released in 2008.

Since its inception, the Partnership for Water Sustainability has been guided by and acted within the 45 actions in Living Water Smart. The enduring strength of Living Water Smart lies in its recognition that collaboration, while important to foster within a legislative framework, also happens outside governments, in communities and non-governmental organizations.

The Water Sustainability Act is another key piece; the Partnership is committed to furthering its implementation and collaborating with the provincial government to fill gaps and improve the legislation.

We are implementers: Look back to see ahead

“A Partnership strength is the real-world experience we bring because of our multiple initiatives under Living Water Smart Actions. Under that vision, various building blocks processes have evolved over the decades. Living Water Smart transcends governments,” states Ted van der Gulik, Partnership President.

“Over the past 30 years, the hard work of hope has resulted in a policy, program and regulatory framework in British Columbia that enables community-based action to adapt to the changing seasonal water cycle.”

“Living Water Smart successes are defined by collaboration and a “top-down and bottom-up” approach. This brings together decision-makers and community advocates. Successes are milestones along a building blocks continuum.”

“The Watershed Security Strategy and Fund, an initiative of the current provincial government, is the obvious mechanism to revisit, understand, learn from, and leverage past successes in the building blocks continuum. We have tools to help do the job. We can achieve better stewardship of BC’s water resources for present and future generations.”



“The Partnership is a legal entity. Operationally, however, we function as the hub for a network, which we describe as the Living Water Smart Network, “stated Kim Stephens, Waterbucket eNews Editor and Partnership Executive Director.

“The Partnership leadership team is growing the network. We are not building a conventional organization. The Living Water Smart Network is guided by the collaborative leadership model, and this shared vision:

“The network also holds the key to intergenerational collaboration. It is how we build bridges of understanding and pass the baton from the past to the present and future. In this way, the network is a foundation piece for succession planning and thus continuity.”

“For the Partnership to be successful as a catalyst for facilitating changes in practice over the long-term, the hard work on the ground must be done by our partners. This means the mission and work of the Partnership must be aligned with and support their organizational aspirations and objectives.”

“The Partnership’s Annual Report 2022 lays out our mind-map for a 3-year transition strategy for ensuring the continuity of the Living Water Smart Network.”

“The document is not a conventional annual report in the way people typically expect one to look like. Rather, it is written to inform and engage the reader through a storytelling approach to sharing of information.”

“We do this because everyone learns through stories!”


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: The Partnership for Water Sustainability’s 3-Year Transition Strategy for ensuring continuity of the network – as explained by Ted van der Gulik, President

Extracted from Annual Report 2022, the “story behind the story” is a 600-word essay written by Ted van der Gulik for his President’s Perspective. He paints a broad-brush picture of where the Partnership is heading. It is our road map of Tier One priorities. These build on notable accomplishments in 2022.

Below, the highlighted quotable quote is also extracted from Annual Report 2022. In clear terms, Dr. Jane Wei-Skillern conceptualizes how a network gets to its “mission impact”.

Make it so!

“The long-term success of the Partnership is founded on recognizing when there is either a need or a watershed moment, and then creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. We have done this repeatedly over the years and decades. Notable examples are EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, and the suite of online calculators that the BC Agricultural Water Demand Model has spawned,” wrote Ted van der Gulik.

“Last October, the Partnership leadership team convened in Nanaimo. We looked back to see ahead. We reflected on how we would ensure the continuity of the Partnership network. We emerged from our session with the concept for a 3-year transition strategy to create a self-fulfilling prophecy once again.”

“The Partnership itself is a unique approach to collaboration because we place the emphasis on growing the network within a constellation of networks. We know that from our conversations with Dr. Jane Wei-Skillern of the Haas Business School at the University of California Berkeley.”

“A foundational idea is that we are not building a PWSBC organization per se. But there will always be the need for an “engine” or guiding force, which is the Partnership leadership team. And we cannot just be cheerleaders and facilitators. We must also continue to develop tools and resources that others may not even contemplate. That is one of our strengths. That sets us apart.”

“Growing and sustaining the network is very much about finding those to whom we can pass the baton.”

Year One of the 3-Year Transition Strategy

“Currently, a challenge facing many organizations is the loss of oral history and long-term understanding due to organizational amnesia. This reality is uppermost in our minds as we proceed with Year One of a 3-year strategy,” continued Ted van der Gulik.

“With the foregoing in mind, our Annual Report 2022 is structured in two parts. First, we provide context – we describe how the Partnership embodies collaborative leadership and how we achieve our intergenerational mission through the power and continuity of the network. Then we highlight three Partnership priorities for 2023.”

Three priorities align with desired outcomes for a 3-year transition strategy

“The defining question is this: Who among the next generation will step forward, accept the baton, and provide the type of leadership that would ensure continuity of the network? We have an answer for EAP which is foundational to municipal asset management for sustainable service delivery. EAP is our precedent and our first model for a 3-year transition strategy.”

“The Partnership has embarked upon a 3-year program to embed EAP in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Research Institute (MABRRI) at Vancouver Island University. MABRRI has accepted the baton and will lead the next stage of EAP evolution. They believe in EAP and are committed to meeting the needs of local government through training of the next generations of planners and local government staff. They have bought into the vision.”

“Learning from the EAP precedent, we are committed to doing something along the same lines with either the provincial government or other partners. For example, this may be where our objective is to ensure the legacy of tools that others may be relying on for their water use decisions such as those related to water licensing. This means we must establish relationships with a new generation of provincial decisionmakers and staff.”

“In 2023, our big idea is to convene a workshop for senior managers in the provincial government, up to and including Deputy Ministers. The theme would be helping people meet their mandate. We would build strategically and communicate and coordinate with early adopters.”

“At the end of the day, ensuring continuity of the network is really about how organizations continue within the network.”